by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The bright morning planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – are visible in the southern skies. Jupiter and Saturn are in the south, 4.8° apart. Mars is farther east.
Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding as they appear to be moving westward compared to the starry background. When our faster moving planet passes the slower moving outer planets, they seem to back up compared to the stars. During the next several weeks Jupiter opens a larger gap on Saturn. This continues until September, when they resume their eastward movement.
The celestial objects rise in the east and set in the west, while the planets move eastward compared to the celestial backdrop. On occasion they seem to backup for several weeks. Then they resume their eastward motion compared to the starry background while they rise and set in our sky.
Jupiter passes Saturn on December 21, 2020, for what is known as a Great Conjunction. Such events occur every 20 years.
Meanwhile Mars is moving eastward compared to the starry background and creating a larger gap with Jupiter and Saturn. This morning, the Jupiter – Mars gap is about 47°.
Follow the planets in the sky during June.
Venus moves into the morning sky later this month, joining this planetary trio.